Napalm Death, Carcass, Extortion
17 April 2015
Prince Bandroom, Melbourne
Review by Daniel Tucceri
A double header featuring grind titans Napalm Death and Carcass seemed too good to be true when first announced. Sure enough, it turned out that way when metalheads learned a trip to St Kilda was on the cards. If you’ve ever tried looking for a car park on a Friday night in St Kilda without taking out a second mortgage, you’ll understand our pain; and good luck getting home for under fifty bucks if you live north of the Yarra.
Forgive me for whingeing, but it needed to be said as the pain of it all was well worth it. Since a decent view is hard to get at a packed Prince Bandroom, arriving early had its advantages thanks to Extortion. The local purveyors of hyper-adrenalised power violence were hand-picked by Napalm Death with good reason. Very rarely do you see a close to capacity crowd so early in the evening, let alone for a local support. Such is their cult following, the maniacs at the front don’t get nearly as violent for the headliners as they do for Extortion.
They’re quicker and more lethal than Oscar Pistorius on crystal meth, with every song delivered faster than a speeding bullet. Whilst the diminutive Rohan is a fine tonsil shredder in his own right, things become just that bit more brutal when Barney Greenway joins them onstage. The Napalm Death vocalist gives the audience a taste of what’s in store later when he bellows his way through ‘Grind To A Halt’.
A set bereft of any stage banter, save for an obligatory ‘thank you’ at its end, spoke for itself. The opposite was the case with Carcass, with Jeff Walker forced to fill the void left by Bill Steer’s faulty amp. “Well, we used to be a three piece, pack in the day”, the bass wielding vocalist cracks, before launching into the next number. Walker isn’t beyond taking the piss out of his touring partners, introducing one number as “a song for all the ladies… and Shane Embury”.
The jokes stop as the band delivers each song with surgical precision. To many in the audience, this is nothing short of technical ecstasy. Fans of later of Carcass would be hard pressed to find any flaws in their career spanning set. Yet, those better acquainted with their early material would have found the set lacking for all its perfection. Hearing songs from ‘Symphonies in Sickness’ played so clinically stripped them of the character, which made them definitive grind classics. The appeal of early Carcass and all of their grind contemporaries was the looseness and wonky drumming which constantly threatened to fall apart. Somehow, it manages to (almost always) stay together. Instead, the evolution of their playing style to more of a Gothenburg sound gave their older tunes a completely different rendering.
Where Napalm Death have managed to evolve in their own right, they have remained faithful to the characteristic looseness of the grind template. A few metal snobs in attendance complain about Danny Herrera’s trademark off-kilter drumming, but they aren’t quite getting it. The threat of imminent collapse is what adds to the danger. Consider this; would you prefer to watch the most exquisitely executed judo bout at the Olympics, or four maniacs at the pub bashing each other with pool cues?
Barney Greenway wouldn’t seem out of place in that kind of setting. His onstage gesticulations, tearing at his hair and shaking his head, are similar to the school nuffy who’s had his pants dacked just one too many times. Vocally, there is no one like him. He doesn’t scream so much as bellow like a vivisected primate. Like Jeff Walker, Barney takes any opportunity to take the mickey out of his fellow bandmates and return fire to Carcass. Poor old John Cooke of Venemous Concept, the absent Mitch Harris’ stand in, is repeatedly introduced to the crowd as Munky from Korn. Instantly, everyone with dreadlocks in the Prince Bandroom made a mental note to find a pair of clippers ASAP. However, Greenway took license more than once to address the crowd on a number of issues, such as racism (‘Nazi Punks F*** Off’), corporate exploitation (‘Smash a Single Digit’) and sexual suppression (‘Cesspits’).
With a set spanning 1987’s ‘Scum’ to this year’s ‘Apex Predator-Easy Meat’, the fans were definitely not disappointed. Simply, they gave it their all. Speaking to the distinctive Shane Embury before the show, one could be forgiven for fearing the opposite. Clearly tired, these guys had just arrived from Perth that morning and being in their mid-forties doesn’t make them spring chickens.
It must be made mention of, for onstage they were utterly unrelenting and formidably fast. Age shall not weary them; it’s only made them angrier.